A Single Pringle Valentine’s (Self Love 101).

“Self love is an ocean and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.” – Beau Taplin


Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite holiday and has been for as long as I can remember. Some people have asked me “why,” and the answer is simple…it’s a day dedicated of love.

Every year I get to see happy couples sharing their love for one another and celebrating love. The stores are filled with pinks and reds of every kind, and honestly just seeing all the mushy gushy stuff puts a smile on my face. What can I say, I’m a hopeless romantic.

While I am well aware that I’m single, I don’t let that dull even one moment of this heart-warming day. Why sulk instead of using this holiday to celebrate self-love? Who says you can’t buy yourself a gift and acknowledge how amazing you are?

There’s a few different stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, but they all have one common denominator … love. Each story ends in tragic death over love (how romantic, right?) led by none other than St. Valentine.

While Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to express your love and gratitude for the important people in your life, it’s also a great day for single people too. This year I’ve decided to buy myself a present and take myself out on a date, and I can’t wait!

This idea may seem silly to some, but taking care of yourself (mind, body and spirit) is more important than we even realize. We’re so quick to project our love to others and place them first in our lives, never truly understanding that this is wrong.

Love of self is not just a concept, it’s a necessity. When we don’t fill our souls with positivity and validation we end up feeling empty with nothing left to give. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, you can’t pour out love from an empty cup.

With this being said, I believe getting to truly know ourselves is crucial, but it’s also uncomfortable. We go through our lives with our day-to-day routines often forgetting to stop and evaluate where we are inside.

I always thought I was super confident until I took a minute to look in the mirror. I had been dealing with a few self-esteem issues so my therapist told me to look in a mirror and say “I love you. I never imaged that saying those three words to myself would be so tough.

In 25 years of life I’d never taken just one single minute to really look in the mirror at myself. I’d always been in a hurry to put on my makeup or do my hair before starting my day. I never knew that all that time I’d been staring at a stranger.

Once I realized how disconnected I was with myself I decided to start the journey of self-love. I started researching exercises, books, anything I could do to learn who I was and how I could love that person in the mirror.

A few years and countless hours of staring in the mirror, reading inspirational books and seriously focusing on positive self talk I was able to say those three words. Not only did I say them, I believed them, and man it was the best feeling ever.

It was like something inside of me awakened from a 27 year sleep. I felt more alive than ever and suddenly realized that all of the things I’d been searching for in others I’d had inside all along. This moment catapulted my evolution into the strong, independent woman that I am today.

It’s crazy what happens when we really start to love ourselves. We become more confident, more aware, stronger, braver and more alive than ever before. We start to see things from a whole new perspective and finally learn our self-worth.

This new sense of self becomes a building block for not only our relationship with ourselves but with others as well. We learn what we will and will not tolerate in a romantic relationship or friendship, and in turn we build healthy connections that positively impact our lives.

So as silly as it sounds, self-love is the foundation of our lives. While being single is tough in our generation, we can actually use it as a positive to get to know ourselves. The world tries to tell us that we need to be married with kids by 23 years old. I’m here to tell you that is a lie.

If we take the time to learn who we are and work on becoming the best possible versions of ourselves, we open the door to healthy relationships that are usually more beneficial in the long run.

If someone tries to tell you that self-love is selfish, they are sadly mistaken because those who have gone down this path know it’s not selfish but imperative to our well-being. Keep strong in your path and don’t let anything others say affect your journey.

This Valentine’s Day if you’re alone and a single pringle like myself, take it as a blessing. Recognize it as the amazing opportunity that it is and learn to honestly love yourself. Nothing good comes from self-pity but something wonderful can come from inner work.

I encourage you to get dolled up, buy yourself a gift and treat yourself how you’d want a future partner to treat you. It may feel silly at first but when we learn to date ourselves we learn exactly what we want in a future spouse.

On February 14th you’ll find me wearing my best dress and drinking a glass of wine at my favorite restaurant at a table for one. I may get questionable looks from the couples next to me, but I don’t care because I’m confident and love myself. Can you say the same?



Myka Shantell💋


Mental Illness: Disorder NOT Decision.

“Anxiety is the most silently painful experience. It makes no sense and you sit there alone and suffer for an unknown reason. You can’t explain it, and you can’t stop it. It merely is.” – Anonymous


How could you think I want to feel this way? Do you think the never ending fear and dread is something I look forward to each day? You say I do it for attention, that I’m making it all up. How dare you.

You don’t believe me when I tell you my heart is pounding so fast that I feel like I’m having a heart attack. You scoff when I say I’m dizzy, scared and confused which only makes me feel worse.

I tell you I have anxiety, and you act like you don’t believe me. I open up to you about what I go through, and instead of helping you laugh. I’m glad you think this is funny because I feel like I’m dying.

You’ll never understand the fatigue that comes along with being in a constant state of fight-or-flight. You think I’m lazy when really my mind has been running a marathon. You can’t see my suffering so you don’t believe that it’s there, but trust me it’s there.

When I tell you I’m feeling anxious you tell me to “get over it” because “everyone has anxiety.” I try to explain to you that this is different, but you don’t want to hear it. You mock me and leave never realizing that you’ve completely shattered me.

You get frustrated with me because I tell you that I can’t get out of bed. You call me pathetic and worthless then walk out of the room. Little do you know that I’m paralyzed by my mental illness, and every time I wake up I’m forced to fight another battle.

You get mad and tell me I’m a terrible friend because I cancelled plans with you. You say you’re never hanging out with me again because I’m a flake. Unbeknownst to you I’m sitting on my bathroom floor crying uncontrollably for no reason, unable to move.

I try to tell you I’m sorry and that I’ll make it up to you, but you say you don’t want to hear my excuses. You curse under your breath and hang up on me not knowing that your hatred just sent me over the edge.

Not only do you hate me, but now I hate myself. I take every single word you said to heart and start telling myself how worthless I am. I repeat your harsh words over and over until they’re stuck in my mind, and then I start believing them.

After a while, I somehow find the strength to pull myself out of the darkness. I begin to have a social life and finally start to feel like a normal person. You ask me on a date, and I say yes with pure excitement.

You pick me up, and we go to dinner. We start talking about ourselves, and I decide to bring up my anxiety. Instantly your face changes, and you shut down. You take me home and tell me that you just can’t deal with my disorder. Then I never hear from you again.

Never will you realize that you’re a perfect example of why I gave up on love in the first place. I start telling myself how stupid I was to think anyone could ever love me, and you send me straight back to that dark place in my mind.

I fill my days with mindless TV and junk food just looking for something to ease the pain. I do anything I can to numb the overwhelming feelings and emotions because, despite what you think, I don’t want to feel them.

You say you’re finally ready to try and understand my anxiety disorder. You apologize for all the things you said and tell me you didn’t mean them. You sit me down and ask me to tell you what’s going on, but yet again I disappoint you.

I wish I could tell you what’s going on in my mind, but I can’t even explain it to myself. I tell you as much as I can, and when I look over at you you’re crying. You finally start to see exactly what I’m going through, and it breaks your heart.

We sit together in silence, crying and hugging each other. I finally feel somewhat understood and loved, something I haven’t felt in a long time. The biggest weight is lifted from my shoulders when you tell me I’m not alone. You’ll never know how good that feels.

With every day that passes I start to feel a little stronger, and the sun slowly starts to brighten my dark place. For the first time in a long time I begin to think that just maybe I can live a happy life despite my anxiety.

Mental illness is a disorder not a decision. No one asks for this curse, and sadly some don’t survive it. No one that suffers with these disorders did anything to deserve them. They were merely woven into our DNA.

Because there is no cure all we, who suffer from these conditions, can do is learn to live with them by taking it one day at a time. We have to surround ourselves with those who are patient with us and love us despite our flaws.

Support is critical to those of us who are dealing with these issues. We’re our biggest critics and therefor we don’t need anyone in our lives that will add to our already overwhelming negativity. If you aren’t here to help us then leave.

Although mental illness is not a decision, it is up to us to fight for our happiness. We can’t let our disorder consume us or dictate what kind of life we live. Ultimately, we control our minds.

So when the darkness starts creeping in, hold on to this…you are not your disorder, and you are not alone. The sun will shine again and when it does, it will be beautiful.


Myka Shantell💋


2018: Like A Phoenix From The Ashes.

“And just as the Phoenix rose from the ashes, she too will rise. Returning from the flames, clothed in nothing but her strength, more beautiful than ever before.” – Shannen Heartzs

A year can change a lot of things. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s so true. Over the last year I’ve learned so much about myself, my true inner self.

The journey has been tough over the last 27 years, but this past year has been the most revealing yet. I learned that although I appear confident, I struggle with self-doubt, which is something that’s hard for me to admit.

In 2017 I realized that I’ve been in denial about my insecurities. I was always outgoing and involved in group activities growing up. I figured that because I was so extroverted that meant I was confident which was completely false.

The last 365 days of my life have been full of struggles, highs, lows and incredible growth. Although the pain wasn’t fun it ultimately lead me to where I am now, a place of understanding and self-love.

I struggled tremendously with my anxiety, depression and loneliness in 2017. I felt like I’d never get through some of my paralyzing panic attacks, some of the worst I’d ever had in my life. I thought there was no way I could learn to manage my anxiety, but I’m getting more control every day.

Loneliness struck me really hard this year. I thought that I’d at least be in a relationship if not already married at this point in my life. The pressure and expectations of society also didn’t help. The notion that you’re “supposed” to get married young and start a family did nothing but turn my loneliness into depression.

Let’s be clear, I’m completely happy with my life just the way it is, but if someone who’s single tells you they don’t yearn for a companion in life they’re lying. As human beings we just want to be loved and understood. We want a partner with us in this crazy journey called life.

While loneliness still hits me in waves, I’ve learned to focus on my many blessings. This has allowed me to get through the hard times, the moments of unrelenting sadness and heartache. It’s crazy how concentrating on the positive can truly combat depression.

Over the past year, I figured out exactly what qualities I’m looking for in a future husband. I’ve always jumped somewhat blindly into relationships so it felt good to write down traits that I truly wanted in someone. Now I feel more prepared for the next person God decides to bring into my life.

Speaking of God, 2017 was an incredible year of getting closer to the Lord. I was raised Baptist but always hated feeling like I had a label or that I had to worship God a certain way. So I decided to branch out and found a non-denominational church that I really love.

It felt good to get back that bond I’d once had with Jesus. It’s sad to say but sometimes our minds blame God for certain things that happen because we can’t see their meaning at the time. I was one of those people, and in return I ended up losing that close relationship we’d once had. It feels so good to have it back.

Throughout the last year I also learned the importance of quality over quantity in my friendships. I lost a lot of friends, but I also strengthened my relationships with those who were deserving of the title. I found out the distinction of “friend” vs. “acquaintance” and applied it.

Yet through all of the many revelations in 2017, none were more important than the reality of how much I’d grown as a person. I found out more about myself than I ever thought possible. I sat down, looked in the mirror and truly evaluated my life.

It was extremely scary being so vulnerable, but it was exactly what I’d been needing to do. We get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we never really stop to just look at ourselves and who were are as a person. We take so much for granted and forget to make ourselves a priority.

I started working on myself a few years ago when I decided to start seeing a therapist after going through a really hard time. The beginning was scary, and opening up to a stranger was the most terrifying thing I’d ever done. I didn’t want anyone else to see my many insecurities and flaws.

Nevertheless, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. This one simple step catapulted me on a journey of self discovery that I’ve been continuing since that day. For some reason, 2017 was the most revealing thus far. The past year brought up emotions and struggles within myself that I didn’t even know existed.

I did a lot of belittling and criticizing to myself this year, and that makes me really sad. I always preach self-love and appreciation yet I was doing the complete opposite. I had voices in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t doing enough with my life, and I started to believe them…but not anymore.

This new year is a chance for a renewal of spirit and mind. It’s a clean slate just waiting for an epic story to be written, and I plan to take full advantage of that. This year is about building myself up instead of tearing myself down. It’s about prioritizing myself and doing some real work on my soul.

In 2018 I’ll be kinder to myself and follow my passions. I’ll quit making excuses and chase my dreams head on. I have so many things I want to do in this life, and there’s nothing stopping me but myself (and that goes for everyone). I’ll go on more adventures and stop letting fear hold me back from my purpose.

In 2018 I’ll be courageous, fierce and unwavering. I’ll set goals, and I’ll crush them one by one. And like a phoenix from the ashes I’ll rise up stronger, braver and with utter determination.

I’ll let my rebirth be total and complete. No remnants of self-doubt or sabotage will be allowed to enter my purified soul. I’ll take this fresh start and use it wisely. I won’t fall for the tricks of my past for they no longer have a hold on me. I’m as free as a bird and you better believe I’m going to fly.

So bring it on 2018, I’m ready for you.


Myka Shantell💋


There’s A Reason That She’s Bitter.

“I usually become a ghost to those who no longer deserve my time. I’ve never seen a point in explaining my absent to someone who failed to appreciate my presence. You don’t owe any explanations to those who hurt you.” – R.H. Sin


There’s a reason that she’s bitter, more than one to be exact. It’s the empty words and broken promises she’s always told.

She used to believe them, to believe that one could actually tell the truth. She used to trust others without a doubt, open arms and open heart, yet all she got was let downs.

She used to have hopes and dreams that for once someone would follow through on their word, but those words were merely spoken. Those dreams turned to nightmares full of broken hearts and tear stained pillows.

She repeatedly got knocked down by blatant lies and knives in her back. She’d finally find the strength to get back up, to heal the wounds, only to find another knife and another heartbreak.

If there’s one thing she began to realize it was that the world is a cold, emotionless, selfish place. It’s a place where treachery and hate enormously outweigh good and love. A place where no one is truly safe.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter. Despite the darkness and countless disappointments she kept on trying. She continued to put one foot in front of the other just to make it another day. That’s the thing about her, she’s a fighter ’til the end.

Yet, even fighters have their low points. Even warriors have moments of weakness, and man do people love to exploit one’s flaws. Humans are like vultures waiting to swarm on wounded prey.

There were so many times that she dropped her guard to show others her real self, only to be hurt once again. There were so many times that she went against her gut and let others in, only to be wounded once more.

Eventually, her circle got smaller, and the wall around her heart was so tall that none could pass through. That’s exactly the way she wanted it. After all the tears and heartaches, no one was allowed in.

Most people couldn’t handle the rejection. They couldn’t accept the fact that from now on they’d only get a piece of her, never realizing that it was their own disloyalty and betrayals that caused her bitterness.

After a short while, most decided she wasn’t worth fighting for and went on their way. They never questioned their actions and never even looked back. What they ultimately did was prove her point…the world is a cold place.

At first it really hurt. Being abandoned by people you once loved is no easy thing. There’s no quick way to brush off the pain that comes with being disposed of like a piece of trash, but there is a way to make sure it never happens again.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter. After being tossed to the side and left alone to pick up the pieces, she decided to become so strong that no one would ever treat her that way again. She decided from that moment on to become a savage.

As time went on, she grew a little more rigid. She stopped letting people walk all over her which lead to plenty of arguments and nights home alone. Her friends became so few that she could count them on one hand, and that’s the way she liked it.

If someone had a problem with the new her, she didn’t care. They could walk out the door, and she wouldn’t blink an eye. She was done crying over people who didn’t value her worth or treat her with respect.

Some couldn’t believe how frigid she’d become. Most people saw the friendly, outgoing, sweet girl on a daily basis, but if you double crossed her you were done…easy as that.

Even to this day people don’t seem to get it. To some a promise is nothing but words, commitment is merely an idea, loyalty is a quality that is near extinct, trust is 99.9% impossible to build and love is thrown around like it’s nothing.

Sure it may have been one broken promise, one unreturned phone call, one ignored text message, but to her it means the world. The small things are what truly matter in this life, the little things show how much you value her.

While these morals seem meaningless to our generation, they’re extremely vital to her. She places them above all and won’t settle for anyone who doesn’t feel the same. She’s settled for far to long, and she’s done with it.

So if you plan on coming into her life, take a moment to realize exactly what that entails. Be loyal, trustworthy, loving and true to your word or don’t even bother. She’s an expert at realizing intentions from the beginning, and no longer will she be fooled.

If you really want to know her, love her or be a part of her world…be honest. You’ll get all of these things and more in return, for those who are guarded are the most loyal. If you can break down their guard, the reward is exceptional.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter, more than one to be exact…


Myka Shantell💋


I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Way.

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” – Kathy Kinney


I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought life could get so messy, so confusing, so out of control. I’d done everything in my power to live the “perfect” life. I’d gone to school, gotten straight A’s, participated in activities, went to church and tried to be a good human.

Yet it never felt like enough.

I thought all of my good deeds and careful choices would spare me of the heartache and pain that seemed to fill this ugly world. I thought my kind heart and gentle soul could keep me from sorrow, but I was wrong.

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought I’d lose my best friend at such a tender age or experience a gut wrenching break up with an ex that would leave me feeling paralyzed. However, I intimately learned the saying “love hurts.”

I never thought I’d hang out with the wrong crowd or do things behind my parents’ backs like some typical rebellious teen. I thought I was better than that. Yet I partied and made bad decisions sometimes for no good reason at all.

I never thought I’d struggle so heavily with anxiety and depression as a teenager. I didn’t think I’d battle with self confidence or self love either. On the outside I appeared so confident, so in control, but on the inside I was drowning.

I could’ve never imagined the struggles I’d face in college. The sleepless nights, the drunken disagreements and feeling like I might not make it through nursing school. I remember asking myself what the hell I was doing putting myself in these risky predicaments…

Yet I could never bear to hear the truthful answer to those questions.

I never thought I’d be so cruel to myself. I truly was my own worst enemy. I never thought I’d look in the mirror and be hateful to the reflection staring back at me. Despite all the good things I’d done in the world, I was never good enough in my own mind.

I never knew I’d be single into my latter 20’s. I figured I’d follow the pattern of my hometown and be married with children by 24 years old. I thought I’d grow old in my tiny Texas town and never leave. I thought that was the only life I could live.

I never knew I’d be given such opportunities by simply moving away from home. I didn’t know I would find so much happiness in recreating myself…new town, new me. I had never realized just how claustrophobic I felt in that place.

I never realized realize how much I missed out on by giving in to my fears. I was terrified to start over away from my family, and with this fear came tons of missed opportunities. I’d never comprehended how much my wings were bound until I broke away and flew.

I didn’t think life would be this way. I never thought I’d have moments of complete emptiness, moments when breathing seemed like an unimaginable task. I didn’t know that anxiety would be something I’d deal with my entire life, a problem that I could never permanently fix.

I didn’t think it would be this way. I thought I could get through life without ever losing a family member. I thought they’d all meet my future spouse, attend my wedding, and hold my future children while we shared stories around the table…and then my Grandpa passed away.

Yet another dream crushed.

I never thought I’d experience the rollercoaster effect of feeling so lonely while also feeling happiness. I never thought it was possible to find joy in the pain and light in the sorrow. I never thought I’d be one to feel weak and alone.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m extremely pleased and grateful at how my life has played out. While I didn’t understand the struggles and grief in the past, I’m beginning to understand them now.

I now see that through pain and heartache comes growth. I realize that losing someone makes you hold onto others a little tighter. It forces you to realize the amazing people you have in your life and reminds you to never take them for granted.

Through heartache we learn to love again. We find that our heart can repair itself and become even stronger than before. We may put up a wall, but it allows us to see who is willing to break it down to be in our lives. It teaches us that our hearts are indestructible.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, each and every experience has made me who I am today. Each trail and tribulation has shaped me into the kind yet wise soul that I am now. While I still try to find the best in others, I’m no longer naive to those who try to hurt me.

I’m stronger than ever before, full of scars but also full of wisdom.

Life really does have a funny way of working out. While things that try to break us may hurt like hell in the moment, their meaning ultimately comes full circle in God’s timing. We don’t understand the pain we initially feel, but later on we often see its purpose.

And while I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m forever grateful for this crazy life I’ve been given. I’m truly thankful for every high and every low, every victory and every defeat. Now I know that although life’s struggles might knock me down, they will not keep me there.

Our lives are our own, and the choice is always ours. Will you choose to dwell on your shortcomings and grieve what you thought life would be, or will you choose to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a fierce perseverance? The choice is ultimately yours…


Myka Shantell 💋


Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown


It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.


Myka Shantell 💋



*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)




5 Traits An Anxious Mind Needs In A Friend.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you’ve ever been a good friend to someone that suffers from anxiety, you probably know that it’s a lot of work. You have to deal with their constant mood swings, fears, emotions and insecurities all while being their rock. It really is a tough gig.

There are probably an enormous amount of times that you want to scream, pull out your hair and simply tell your friend that they’re being irrational. You may get insanely frustrated that they can’t just shut off their anxiety. Yet, you often sit there quietly and listen to every word.

Sometimes you give them words of encouragement while holding them in a tight knit hug, merely letting them know that they’re safe. Other times you may yell and give them tough love because you don’t fully understand their disease which frustrates you even more.

You may sit and cry together in silence when the world just seems too overwhelming for your anxious minded friend. You cry because you’ve never dealt with such pain and aren’t sure what to do or say. Sometimes you may even cry tears of joy when they’re having a good day because you’re ecstatic to see them happy.

Despite all of the craziness that comes along with loving an anxious mind, you stick around, and your mere presence means more to us than you could ever know.

While being a friend to someone that struggles with anxiety can be quite overwhelming, I imagine it’s a love-hate relationship. There are a ton of positives and negatives that come along with loving us, things that we rarely control.

However, I hope you know that if an anxious mind chooses you as a friend you should take it as an extreme compliment. We are extremely selective in who we allow into our lives. Our anxiety tries to isolate us from everyone and tell us that we are unworthy of love.

If you are chosen to become a part of our inner circle, know that it is a big decision for us. It takes everything in our being to truly let people in and see the real, flawed, messy us…the sides we often hide.

We have to silence the constant ruckus going on in our heads in order to focus on another person. We not only have to learn to let our walls down, but we also have to stand up to our anxiety and tell it that we refuse to be alone. That, my dear, is no small feat.

So while your friendship means the world to us, know that there were certain traits we found in you that let us tear our walls down and silence our anxious minds. There was something we saw in you that made us feel safe and willing to open ourselves up with the risk of being hurt.

There are a few things that we saw in you, a few things that the friend of an anxious mind must possess:

1.) Trustworthy

We need to know that no matter what we can trust you with our deepest, darkest secrets. We need to feel like we can trust you with our feelings and that you will never do us wrong. Trust is crucial in any relationship, but we value it more than most.

2.) Patience

We know we’re not the easiest people to be friends with. We have so many mood swings and “irrational fears” that many people don’t understand. When we’re having an anxiety attack, you won’t be able to relate to us. Yet we need to know that you will be patient with us as we work through things.

3.) Loyalty

As our friend, it’s imperative that we know you’re loyal to us. Insecurities go hand-in-hand with anxiety, and a disloyal friend makes our insecurities unbearable. Constantly worrying about where you stand will only make our anxiety worse and ultimately end our friendship.

4.) Understanding

We need you to understand that we aren’t making things up. What we are telling you is really how we feel, even when you can’t relate. While you may have never dealt with anxiety in your personal life, we need you to understand that everything we feel and say is very real to us.

5.) Strength

Lastly, we need you to be a strong person. We understand that everyone has moments in life where they get broken down. However, we need you to be our rock. Many times in our anxiety filled lives we need someone to be strong for us. We need someone that can help us through the really dark times and tell us that everything will be okay.
While each person has something different they look for in a friendship or relationship, these tend to be at the top of our list. It may take us a while to let you in, but once we do you’ll be happy you stuck around.

Although we seem to have a lot of baggage that comes along with us, we are the most loyal people you will ever meet. A friend with anxiety may take a while to warm up to you, but once they do you’ll see the amazing soul they possess.

While anxiety is a part of us, it’s not all of us. We still have so many traits that you’ll fall in love with like being extremely clean, always on time and super organized (to name a few). You’ll start to realize not to judge a book by its cover and that life with anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

I must say although my circle is extremely small, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They’ve seen me experience my highest highs and my lowest lows, and they’ve loved me through them all. They each possess the 5 qualities I listed above and so much more.

So if you befriend an anxious mind just be ready to commit for the long hall, because once we let you in there’s no turning back…


Myka Shantell 💋